A favorite exercise among baseball fans and media is complaining about -- or even merely just pointing out -- high salaries. Specifically, high salaries on players who aren't elite-tier players. "Worst contract" lists are popular. I'm not quite sure why, nor am I looking for a sociological experiment here. I would, however, like to discuss a player who often popped up on those "worst contract" lists (including one of my own) a handful of years ago: Jayson Werth.

Why?

As I sit here, looking back on the completed seven-year deal, I have a hunch it wasn't actually that bad of a deal for the Nationals. Let's work through it and see if my gut feeling is correct.

Heading into his age-32 season in 2011, Werth signed a seven-year, $126 million deal with the Nationals. Again, this deal was mocked for years. Was that fair, though?
What the Nationals were compared to now

The previous three seasons saw the Nationals finishing with 59, 59 and 69 wins, respectively. They were legitimately one of the league's biggest laughingstocks. They had just selected Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper with back-to-back No. 1 overall picks, but that alone wasn't turning things around.

The Nationals at the time had been in existence for six years. They finished in last place five times and fourth once, winning 73 games in their fourth-place season. I'm trying hard not to overstate things here, but we all remember how bad the franchise was.

Signing a big-name free agent from a perennial power (as the Phillies were at the time) is a huge move and in this situation, the downtrodden team generally has to "overpay" in order to land the big name.

In Werth's seven years, the Nationals won the NL East four times.

It wasn't just due to his presence, obviously, but the Nationals were a joke before Werth and with him they grew into a (regular-season) powerhouse. This has to count for something, right?